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I love what I call 'folding' in film, and this is certainly a folded film. Simple folding is when one element of the film creates another and the two lay side by side. Folded.
Meryl Streep was in one of the touchstones of this technique: 'The French Lieutenant's Woman,' which existed as both a story and a film about that story, with Meryl slipping seamlessly between character and actor. At all times, she carried a shadow of the other.
Nicole has come late to folded acting in 'Moulin Rouge!' but she understands the demands well. Julianne has always been folded in her approach since the peak of self-referential folding: 'Vanya on 42nd Street.' These are three of the four master actresses capable of doing such a thing.
Woolf was 'folded' in her writing, shifting between events and self-conscious comment on the events, including implicit perspectives on the creation of both. This is much like Joyce and Nabokov but more mechanically neurotic. Cunningham's treatment extends that notion and Hare respects the folding.
Here we have one world of the writer, one of the character, and one of the reader. This latter is the novelty, with an almost predictable overlap between the last two in a second, embedded writer. It is an almost perfect construction brought to life by three of the most self-aware actors in history - a folded film about a book (Cunningham's) about a book (Brown's) about a book (Woolf's) about folding. This is a work of art about nothing less than life as art, beings as gods and the angst of that knowledge. Phil Glass's score is aptly relentless, reflecting hopeless fate.
So what is wrong? What keeps this from being a life-altering experience? The director Daltry, that's what.
Daldry never passes up a chance to be overtly emotional, falsely dramatic. Where Woolf and Cunningham are subtly rich, Daltry is vulgarly plain. Where these woman cry out for multidimensional expression, Daldry shoves them into one-dimensionality. (I'll never, ever forgive him for 'Billy Elliot.') Examples: the death of the bird is so sweetly fantastic, what with the ultradarling angel, I thought I was in a Fellini excess. When the aged Laura Brown turns up at Clarissa's and starts to tear up, we actually HEAR her blink her weepy eyes. When Laura imagines her death we are treated to a vision of rising river water that is completely out of character of the type of nuanced metaphor needed. When someone in one fold cracks an egg, EVERYONE must crack an egg. When Ed Harris does his tortured artist bit, we have every stoke as plain obviousness. And this from a man who has done this precise thing with texture as Pollock! (Incidentally, he's paid his own dues with folding film in 'Truman Show.')
I cannot pass up an opportunity to comment on the hair. All three of these leads are often redheads, two of them naturally. Toni Collette is as well. In this film, red hair color has been engineered down to Julianne and Toni to match the technique of red-deprived colored film stock copied from 'Far From Heaven.' That is, except for the red Eileen Atkins (flowershop lady) who has herself made something of a career out of Virginia Woolf.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
Having made my wife suffer through Snatch (one of the great movies ever made) I did penance by trying to sit through The Hours. The theatre was about 1/2 full -- we waited a few weeks to see it -- and I noticed something very unusual about 30 minutes into the movie. I saw the men in the crowd, in ones and twos, get up and leave. Realizing that I, too, had "forgotten" to get popcorn on the way in, I told my wife I was going to go out and get some. Well, a bathroom visit, a trip to the concession stand, a walk around the block, and about 35 minutes later I finally worked my way back in to the theatre and found out that, just like an afternoon soap opera, I hadn't missed a thing. I know it won the awards and was much lauded by the critics, but I've got to tell you, it wasn't my favorite movie of THE DAY, much less the week, month, or year. (PS -- went home and watched The Limey on DVD)
Intense drama based on the novel of Pulitzer Prize winner Michael
Cunningham. Very good story, great acting and excellent directing. I
read some other user comments of this movie and I was surprised to read
that so many people disliked this movie.. I loved it! It was the first
time I watched it, but he's certainly worth a second watch. Although I
can't understand why Nicole Kidman won the Academy Award for Best
Actress in Leading Role.. OK, she was pretty good but LEADING role..?
Her part isn't that big... I also think that Julianne Moore was really
outstanding, much better then Kidman. Moore and Harris gave without any
doubt the best acting performances in this movie!
I think Stephen Daldry is the biggest new talent of the last 5 years. With "Billy Elliot" and "The Hours" he made 2 excellent movies who will be remembered for a long time. It's amazing, directing 2 movies and being nominated for Best Director for both movies!
Besides watching the movie, I also read the book. I advice everyone who liked the movie, to also read Cunningham's book. It's a great peace of literature, brilliantly written! I think if you like movies with a meaning, a great story, meaningful dialogs and excellent acting performances, you definitely should see "The Hours".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie, and the timing in which it came out, were just right to
make an impact on my life. I was 22 when this was released and came out
on VHS. I literally wore out the VHS tape because I watched it so
I distinctly remember my gut reactions to this movie - especially to Clarissa's story line at the end. I felt that this movie was a truly interesting look at depression. It kind of makes you feel like: "snap out of it" at first. You get 3 different glances at three different female lives and at the beginning of the film it looks like all of them have pretty nice lives. It is also starkly obvious that none of them are happy in their "nice lives." This interests me particularly because the devastation is often pushed on to the depressed by those around them. It is very easy to think, or to say to them: "you have a good life. why can't you be happy?" The movie does not really address this for us. It does not tell us why they cannot be happy and I believe that is because each of these women wonder that a bit themselves - even to the extent of feeling some guilt about it. As each story unfolds it becomes obvious that their happiness or unhappiness is out of their control. Virginia has obviously battled her demons for most of her life and both her and her loved ones are close to the end of what they can bear. The first thing we see is Virginia's suicide, so you are warned very early that this movie is not going to be a gentle ride.
Laura Brown was the most frustrating character to me personally. You can tell from the first glance of her that she's depressed. Her poor husband and child that both try so hard to connect with her but just cannot... and I felt so deeply for her little boy. It is obvious he knows something is wrong but also that he cannot fix it for her. It's a hard situation to watch. It's so important, though. Having a wonderful husband, children, a nice home... none of these things guarantee happiness.
Clarissa is the character I sympathize with. She is longing for days past and is weighed down by her past - the things she she wishes she could return to and the opportunities she feels she missed. What I see as the watcher, though, is that maybe her expectations for herself and her life were just a little too high. I think this is an emotional place where many women find themselves.
Here's my major spoiler - just a warning.
The scene in which Richard commits suicide is so perfectly done. Meryl Streep's expression will stay with me forever. My husband accidentally sat down for the last half of of this movie a few days ago and I warned him: the end get rough. He just looked at me like that was silly. But when the end came, he was speechless. lol Many movies that touch on depression almost make my depression worse but this movie never has. I feel amazingly understood by the way this movie was handled.
End game, it is a very well done movie. It's probably not the type of movie you want to show at a party, and I wouldn't say it's a really relaxing watch, but if you want to understand depression or want to feel that someone understands yours, hopefully this movie will help you too.
OK, but not great. Takes a while to get going, is filled with
superficial melodrama and ultimately isn't overly profound. Still, the
Meryl Streep-Ed Harris storyline is quite moving, and makes the movie
I am not a Nicole Kidman fan, and this movie didn't change that. I always found her characters so prissy and pretentious, and this was no exception. She certainly didn't deserve her Best Actress Oscar (though there wasn't much competition in the 2003 Oscar year).
Ed Harris and Julianne Moore got Supporting Actor/Actress nominations for their performances, and Harris' nomination was well deserved (he lost out to Chris Cooper, in Adaptation). Meryl Streep should have at least gotten a nomination for her performance.
I didn't know what to make of this film, The Hours. For one, I think it
may be a little overrated. But on the other hand, it's far from a bad
film and it's quite powerful. But one thing for sure, this film is
dark, depressing, and dreary since the overall topic of the movie is on
a weighty matter and that is suicide. This film celebrates life, but it
also makes a case on how life is very hard and how people sometimes
make decisions to end it. This film is eye-opening, but very darn
Stephen Daldry's film tells the story in the eyes of three women, many years apart, but somehow their lives are interconnected. There is Virginia Wolff who is mentally unstable and working on a novel called "Mrs. Dalloway" that is very influential in this movie. There is Laura Brown who is an unhappily married 1950's housewife. Finally, there is Clarissa who is organizing a party for one of her friends who is in the final stages of AIDS.
This is one of those films that rely on the acting and what an acting powerhouse this film is. Nicole Kidman was superb as Wolff and deserves her Oscar. Julianne Moore was also excellent as Laura Brown. Meryl Streep is great in everything, no exception here. But she seemed to take a sidestep to both Kidman and Moore. Ed Harris was phenomenal as the AIDS-stricken man.
Overall, The Hours is a powerful movie that will probably hit home hard one way or another. On such a weighty topic, this film will get you thinking. Although it's about suicide, I think of it as more of a celebration of life and how life shall be remembered. This film may be a little slow at times, but it packs quite a punch. There is also a wonderful film score by Philip Glass as well that adds in the effectiveness. I rate this film 8/10.
Nicole Kidman's performance was absolutely ASTONISHING in her role of
Virginia Woolf.(Won Academy award for Best Actress)
I think this movie is one of the greatest visionary movie's about how the simple life can get people to sanity.
It is not a simple movie to understand, you got to get all the pieces together to understand the characters and the choices they make.
Based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Hours follows a single day in the lives of three women in different times.
Philip Glass's score describes greatly the movie's atmosphere which is hardly pressured by depression.
Sit back and enjoy the hours that will give this movie.
When this movie came out, I was rather little, so I had to pass it. This year I finally drew courage to read Cunningham's novel from which this movie was adapted. It is complex and relies on inner worlds and thoughts of three women. The movie has some very good points in bringing the novel to life, especially editing of different time periods, since it was not that easy to see exact parallels in the novel if they happen fifteen pages or more apart. I was seriously impressed by the acting of Nicole Kidman. I haven't seen her much, but I think this is her best role from what I've seen. I did not gave 10 stars because I doubt I would've understood those women's torment if I hadn't read the novel, because it is rather difficult to decode feelings and consciousness when there is not much to work with. The cast worked brilliantly, but there was still something missing, the edge, I suppose.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Hours is a drama film starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep,
Julianne Moore and Ed Harris. The screenplay by David Hare is based on
the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title by Michael
Cunningham.Toni Collette, Miranda Richardson, Allison Janney, and
Claire Danes co-stars.It was directed by Stephen Daldry.
Three women, separated by a span of nearly 80 years, find themselves weathering similar crises. In 1923, Virginia Woolf is attempting to start work on her novel Mrs. Dalloway, in which she chronicles one day in the life of a troubled woman. But Virginia has demons of her own, and she struggles to overcome the depression and suicidal impulses that have followed her throughout her life, as her husband Leonard ineffectually tries to help. In 1951, Laura Brown is a housewife living in suburban Los Angeles, where she looks after her son Richie and husband Dan.Laura is also an avid reader who is currently making her way through Mrs. Dalloway. The farther she gets into the novel, the more Laura discovers that it reflects a dissatisfaction she feels in her own life, and she finds herself pondering the notion of leaving her life behind. Finally, in 2000, Clarissa Vaughn is a literary editor who is caring for Richard Brown,a former boyfriend and noted author, who is slowly losing his fight with AIDS. Clarissa is trying to arrange a party to celebrate the fact that Richard has won a prestigious literary award, but is getting little help from Richard's ex-lover, Louis. As she labors to help Richard through another day, he wonders if his life is worth the unending struggle.
Delicate and hypnotic, it interweaves three stories with remarkable skill.It actually improves on Cunningham's novel.Credit that to the gorgeous cinematography, a deft script by playwright David Hare and a mournful, melodious but never intrusive score by Philip Glass and a superb cast.It is a thought provoking film despite the fact that it doesn't really manage to entertain that much.
I saw this film for the first time when I was fifteen and beginning to
discover my own feminism.
Nicole Kidman plays Virginia Woolf writing her famous novel Mrs Dalloway, Julienne Moore is Laura Brown, a 1950 s housewife reading Mrs Dalloway and Meryl Streep is Clarissa Vaughan, a modern-day version of Mrs Dalloway. These three women, in their separate timelines, affect each other's day as they grapple with the threat of suicide (in one form or another) and the ghosts of their past.
One moment in particular that makes my heart ache every time I watch it is when Clarissa (Streep) is preparing the "crab thing" for a party for her writer friend Richard (who is battling AIDS). Streep has a wonderful way of using her body language to express more than words ever could. Clarissa stands over the sink and tries to hold back tears. In that moment, we know all that she has lost, all that she yearns for, all that she regrets all that she has laboured and all that she can never change.
In case you are wondering, I don t think it is necessary to read Mrs Dalloway or the novel The Hours before watching this movie. Although I strongly recommend an attempt on these masterpieces of literature, this film is a beauty on its own.
Stand outs: Despite being a male character in a female-centred film, Richard (Ed Harris) is a linchpin in this story. Harris manages to balance stubborn martyrdom and crippled pride. Toni Collette also delivers a powerhouse scene as Laura's neighbour Kitty. Overall, stellar performances from the entire cast.
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